“There’s so much this city can offer, regardless of what you’re looking for. Whether it’s the arts community or the political arena that piques your interest, go out and start asking people.”
In their own words
I am an employee benefits consultant with CBIZ, where I am fortunate to help local Kansas City businesses develop and execute quality benefit packages for their employees.
First of all, I don’t consider this bragging on myself. I like to consider it bragging on my parents, because everything I’ve ever accomplished is because of Rob and Diane O’Byrne and the way they raised me. ☺
From a very early age, I’ve always wanted to make an impact in Kansas City. I just didn’t know how. I was very fortunate to have self-driven, kind, and beyond smart parents who encouraged us to take control of our own future, and to be sure that whatever we do, we’re doing it with the intention of making the world a better place.
That constant push to always look for an opportunity to raise my hand has led me to an interesting, almost “intrepreneurial,” career. Whether it was creating a hybrid role that combined my love for digital and crisis public relations at my first job at Edelman in Chicago or building my own Public Engagement department at Meers Advertising, my mission has always been about helping others and looking at things differently in order to do so.
In 2015, I was fortunate enough to join CBIZ as an Account Manager in our employee benefits department. About a year into my tenure, the Account Executive that I worked with closely left the company. I spoke with our director and I asked for the opportunity to take on more responsibility, even though I had only been in the industry for a year. She agreed and I managed about a million dollar book of business mostly without an Account Executive, and maintained a retention percentage of over 90%. This proved to myself, and others, that I could manage a team and step up into a leadership role.
Over the next year, I worked with my leadership team to develop a business plan for new business that would expand my role into more of a sales/consultant role, while also continuing to serve as an Account Manager. Today, I have executed that business plan, fully transitioned into the sales capacity and am already making significant contributions to our sales goals.
In addition to my everyday work, I have consistently looked for ways to take advantage of internal opportunities to further my professional development, including serving on several internal committees and participating in leadership programs. Along with our local division president, Polly Thomas, I developed a Culture Club committee to enhance our own local employee experience within our benefits department. As the chair of this committee, I am responsible for the 15-person team and managing the budget to foster a positive culture within our department. To me, developing a positive and welcoming culture is important. I try to bring that energy to wherever I go. There is so much research about how having a positive culture is imperative to growing your business. It doesn’t just make business sense; it’s also just the right thing to do.
I’m a proud member of the Central Exchange, the Kansas City Business Journal’s Women Mentoring Women program, and the recently announced Centurions, Class of 2019.
Last year, I co-founded the Young President’s Organization (YPO) Next Generation networking group (YNG), where we developed content and organized monthly events with key business leaders in our community. It’s really a unique opportunity for young professionals to meet with these leaders and ask them questions. It also provides our members an opportunity to network amongst each other.
I am also very passionate about giving back to the city that has given me so much. This is also something that my parents encouraged. I co-chaired the 2014 and 2015 Living In Vitality: LIV Conference, an all day women’s health event, encouraging our 1,200 female attendees to take control of their whole self. The co-chairs’ responsibilities included developing the content of the conference, connecting potential sponsors for the event and organizing year-long events that help lead up to the main event.
One of my biggest achievements for the organization was planning events throughout the year targeted towards a younger audience to attract them to an event that they typically haven’t attended. Additionally, it was a great honor to be co-chair for a second year. This typically is a one-year position. But this is such a huge passion for me, ensuring that we support each other in all areas of well-being, whether it’s physical, financial, spiritual or emotional. Everyone should have access to the tools they need to ensure happiness and health.
Additionally, I currently serve on committees for Starlight Theatre’s Center Stage “After Hours At The Towers” event, the American Cancer Society’s Midwestern Cattle Baron’s Ball, and Junior League as the current Sponsorship chair.
I know this may sound lame, but after four years of being back in KC, I feel like I’m just starting to find where I can make my mark. I am so excited, not about what I’ve done, but about what I’m going to do next.
I don’t just love Kansas City, I am a passionate advocate for the city. Sure, it is my home. It’s where my grandfather started a small business in the 1960’s. It’s where my parents met and fell in love. It’s where I was born, grew up and met my high school sweetheart (now, husband!). And while I went away for college (Mizzou) and then onto the big city (Chicago) post-school for a few years, eventually I returned home.
Kansas City is not just my home in a past sense; it is also my future. I know how great this city is today and our endless possibilities to make it even better tomorrow. I am constantly talking to my friends who live in other cities how fantastic Kansas City is. I have a whole “Tour De KC” planned when they visit, highlighting all the city has to offer. I work with companies across the country and constantly look for opportunities on why it’s smart to do business in KC. My Kansas City story is really just beginning and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
A day in the life
That’s the fun part of my day. No two days look alike! My day revolves around my clients’ needs. So whatever they need me to do or wherever they need me to be, I’m there.
Most days, I am meeting with clients or prospective clients to strategize how to maximize their employee engagement, while mitigating costs and risks to the company. While some days I feel like I spend 80% of my day in a “meeting” setting, I really see this as part of my continued education. I spend a lot of time working and brainstorming with my CBIZ colleagues, who are some of the smartest people in the industry and they are always teaching me something new. I love attending events around the community, whether the topic is professional development or for a charitable cause.
On a personal note, a healthy lifestyle has always been important to me. So I like to start my day with some sort of physical activity. Then after work, I may have a committee meeting, networking event or class at Rockhurst University, where I am finishing up my M.B.A. My husband likes to joke that I have something going on every night…. which could actually be true. But I truly feel like Kansas City has so much going on, it’s impossible not to fill your time.
However, when we do have a free night, I love trying a new restaurant, bars or watching a Chiefs/Royals/Sporting KC/Mizzou game with my husband or friends. I also love to travel, whether it’s far away like Iceland or Egypt or just down to lake for a quick weekend to relax and recharge!
Being a kind person who worked hard to help others.
I’m completely deaf in my left ear! When I was about 5 years old, my parents noticed that I wasn’t speaking properly and that sometimes my attention was hard to get. They took me to an ENT and we discovered that I was deaf in my left ear. My doctor explained to my parents that while I should be able to live a nice life, I may be limited with what I could or couldn’t do. Well, my parents were determined to not let that be the case. They never treated me different than my siblings and pushed me to be the best person I could be. They taught me to never use my lack of hearing as an excuse. So while I may consistently decide to sit on the left side of a room during a presentation or a movie (it helps, trust me!), I’ve always been determined to not let this “limitation” limit me.
There’s so much this city can offer, regardless of what you’re looking for. Whether it’s the arts community or the political arena that piques your interest, go out and start asking people. I am always surprised at how generous Kansas Citians are… if you ask for a good dinner recommendation, people don’t just give you the name of the restaurant. They’ll tell you what to order, when the best time is to go, how to meet the chef and may even call to see if they can get you a reservation. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, but always look to pay it forward in the end. That’s the Kansas City way!
The second piece of advice would be to get outside your comfort zone with the city. I love Kansas City, but I’ll be the first to admit that I only know “my” Kansas City. There is so much more to learn, so many more ways to contribute. Look for ways to open your eyes and explore a whole new Kansas City. Don’t just stick to the 10 mile radius that you live and work in. Get out there, have a drink at a hidden gem, volunteer, visit a smaller museum you’ve never heard of, or discover an independent art gallery and spend time talking to the owner. It’ll just continue to build your love and appreciation for this city.